Laurie Cook Heffron, Ph.D., LMSW

Laurie Cook Heffron, Ph.D., LMSW

Dean’s Post-Doctoral Fellow in Immigration and Violence Against Women

Laurie Cook Heffron, LMSW, is the Dean’s Post-Doctoral Fellow in Immigration and Violence Against Women at The University of Texas at Austin. Her research explores the experiences of, and relationships between, violence against women and migration.

As former Associate Director for Research at UT-Austin’s Institute on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (IDVSA), she has contributed to multiple research projects since 2001. Recent projects include a program evaluation for services to victims of human trafficking, statewide domestic violence prevalence study, a program evaluation of Texas’ Non-Report Sexual Assault Forensic Exam Program, and a national pilot program to develop professional and organizational resiliency among child welfare workers. Laurie also worked with IDVSA in completing a study of resettlement experiences among Congolese refugee women and a statewide evaluation on human trafficking and existing laws and social services in collaboration with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the Office of the Attorney General.

Laurie has both direct social work practice and research experience with a variety of immigrant communities, including refugees, survivors of human trafficking, and asylees. Previously, she served as program coordinator for Green Leaf Refugee Services, providing intensive health and emotional health case management services to refugees, victims of trafficking, asylees, and other immigrants in Central Texas. Currently, she provides pro bono psychosocial assessments to support the immigration cases of women and children seeking T visas, U visas, and asylum based on domestic violence.

Laurie earned a BS in Linguistics at Georgetown University and a Master of Social Work (MSW) from The University of Texas at Austin. As a Donald D. Harrington Fellow at The University of Texas at Austin, Dr. Cook Heffron completed her doctoral degree in August 2015. Her dissertation research was titled, “Salía de uno y me metí en otro:” A grounded theory approach to understanding the violence-migration nexus among Central American women in the United States.

Curriculum Vitae (PDF)

Professional Interests

International social work; immigration and forced migration; human trafficking; violence against women; domestic violence; sexual assault


  • PH.D., The University of Texas at Austin
  • MSSW, The University of Texas at Austin
  • B.S., Georgetown University

Faculty Research


Social Work Building

Fax:(512) 471-9600

Mailing Address

The University of Texas
School of Social Work
1925 San Jacinto Blvd D3500
Austin, TX 78712-0358